October 1, 2009

Time For The 'Skins To Step Up This Week Vs. Bucs

With a veritable firestorm surrounding head coach Jim Zorn following the Redskins 19-14 loss to the Lions, it's time for him to take a long, hard look at his formula because something is obviously not clicking.

The offense has stalled at all the wrong times while the defense isn't even close to being as good as advertised. Special teams? Well at least Hunter Smith is punting.

The coaching staff hasn't been very prepared to say the least. Their psyche is anything but stable at the moment and you can see it with their conservative approach. They are so scared of blowing opportunities that they don't even create them. One thing goes wrong and the team packs up for the day.

That kind of gameplan may keep things close, but it doesn't lead to the play-offs. It leads to 8-8; or worse.

So Zorn needs to make a move and get serious. His back is against the wall, and now he knows it could be only a matter of weeks before he's shown the door.

Usually teams will rally during the toughest times, but the Redskins don't seem to fit the prototype. They remind me of a team that gets slammed through the wall.

Zorn isn't winning any popularity contests with his most important players (Jason Campbell and Clinton Portis) and that won't help the lethargic locker room. He needs to find something to jolt this team out of its coma...and fast.

His defense, expected to be the anchor, has been floundering all season. They are ranked 15th, giving up 325.7 yards per game. In addition, they can't get off the field early in games, which cause two problems.

First, it keeps the offense from establishing its gameplan early; something that happened in the Giants game. With the way this offense has struggled, the defense can't let opposing offenses sustain so many first half drives.

Secondly, it leads to a deficit in time of possession, which wears out the defense late in games. We saw this in the Lions' games as the defense couldn't come with key stops on Detroit's final two drives.

Opposing offenses have converted 51% of their third down opportunities against the Redskins, which is a league worst. And Washington's defense has been on the field for an average of 32:41 a game (good for seventh most in the NFL).

Individual play hasn't been much better on defense. Albert Haynesworth has freed up London Fletcher, but other than that has done very little. In fact, the entire front four has struggled to stop the run on first down.

The 'Skins are 22nd against the run, and have surrendered 100-yard rushing games to two backs in the past two games. That a huge dropoff from the top-five run defenses of the past few years.

The secondary is 11th against the past, but they have left plenty to be desired. Deangelo Hall has been beaten routinely while aside from Chris Horton, the other defensive backs have been lackluster.

The defense has been incredibly disappointing thus far and yet I see it as being the fault of Greg Blache.

Blache's gameplan has failed to utilize the Redskins strengths. They don't blitz off the edge and they fail to shoot the gaps. Tackling is non-existent while the coverage schemes are soft.

Defense has been the Redskins' bread and butter for years. For a solid turnaround, Zorn needs the defense to play more aggressively, and Blache needs to be the one to make that happen.

Offensively, Zorn simply has to go for broke.

He is scared to let Campbell run the offense in the redzone. And it shows.

Two 4th-and-goals from inside the five. Two stretch plays? That's the worst play in the book in a short yardage situation. It takes light years to develop and the blocking must be flawless.

If you don't want Campbell to throw it, at least give the running game a chance up the middle. Better yet, throw it.

Zorn might be scared to throw because of dropped passes, but it's worse getting stuffed on 4th-and-short multiple times.

So the offense can move the ball at will, but if they can't get over the hump in the redzone, that's not much of a positive.

They have strengths. They do a good job establishing the short to intermediate passing game at some points. However, they don't utilize the running game once the passing game starts clicking.

Throughout the second half the the Lions were respecting the Redskin WRs. The box was less cluttered, meaning there was running room for Clinton Portis. However, the 'Skins only handed him the ball 12 times on the game.

Portis isn't the back he once was, but with just seven in the box, he can wear down defenses while taking pressure off of Campbell. Zorn failed to realize this last Sunday.

As far as the passing game is concerned, the 'Skins have done a miserable job getting the ball consistently to Chris Cooley. He disappears in long stretches, and they never use him in the redzone (aside from that one halfback option pass...yuck).

So things aren't too hot for the 'Skins as they prepare to host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. However, Zorn has caught a break as he is taking on a team with even more problems than his Redskins.

Still, he can't breathe easily, another loss will up the pressure that much more.

Time to dig deep. Time to just win.


3rdStoneFromTheSun said...

Josh Johnson is a kid I gushed about before last years draft

he in an unknown entity that scares me a lil

Jack said...

Well we won...that's about the only good news.